The morning the lights came on at Centennial Park
KINGMAN – A community working together can shed light on the hard work and effort of those living within it, a notion exemplified by the four new field lights at Centennial Park, 3333 Harrison St.
The Kingman Youth Soccer League partnered with the City of Kingman and numerous contractors, businesses and organizations throughout town to fund the construction and installation of the lights. The league realized the need for field lighting in 2015 as more Kingman youths were drawn to soccer.
As more players joined the league, which registered about 760 players last year, space and the amount of daylight became problematic. Bennett Bratley, president of KYSL, said the organization either needed to find more space to play or find out how to continue games once the sun went down. He noted the teams consisting of older players had been making use of the park’s baseball fields, since that’s where the lights are.
“You’re playing with U19, big kids, but you’re not able to play for real in a real setting in these smaller fields,” he said. “So we needed an area at Centennial Park that had a big open space with light and wasn’t bound by fences.”
It wasn’t possible to squeeze all the games in over a Saturday morning or afternoon due to the number of teams and games. It doesn’t help that soccer, being a fall sport, is played during a time of year when it gets dark early.
“You only have so much time in the day to play games, and when you have one field and have to get six or seven games on it in one day, it’s just not possible,” Bratley said. “You need light. Now, we can do night games after the kids get off school, just like they play other sports at night.”
The primary use of the field may be soccer, but it’s really a multipurpose field. City Parks Director Mike Meersman said everything from football practices to physical education classes occur at the field.
“You name it, it goes on out there,” he said.
KYSL contributed about $23,000 to the project and was joined by KRMC’s donation of $5,000. About $33,000 came from local contractors, businesses and organizations donating time, effort and resources.
“These are what I would call in-kind donations,” Bratley said. “Where companies are saying, ‘Look, we have the equipment, we have the manpower and we have the ability to come in and donate this to whatever project it might be.’ In this case, the soccer lights.”
In-kind donations included about $6,800 from Unisource Energy, $4,500 from the City of Kingman Parks Department for trenching, and about $1,000 in concrete from Desert Construction in addition to discounts from Walker Service Electric. The list goes on.
“So here we have money from our organization,” Bratley said. “We have a group of contractors and workers that can build the project and put it together, but we were still missing some more money to purchase the lights and get it done.”
The lights themselves were about $58,000 and the finished project cost approximately $94,000. Bratley explained that’s where the City of Kingman stepped in by not only waiving permit fees, but by donating $36,000.
“The city was great,” Bratley said. “From the time that this project was voted on at City Council to getting it completed, I was very impressed.”
Meersman said field lights had been in the capital improvement projects plan for the past three years, but funding hadn’t been improved.
“They (KYSL) wanted the project to be funded, so they brought kids and parents to a council meeting and expressed their desire for it to get done,” Meersman said.
He added that the parents and players of KYSL, as well as the companies that donated their time and money, deserve a “big thank you.” He was also proud of the parks department maintenance staff for all their efforts.
“Our staff and all the staff from the various companies were great to work with,” Meersman said. “It was just a great community project coming together.”
The lights turned on for the first time at 6 a.m. Wednesday. A grand-opening ribbon cutting and an inaugural soccer match under the lights are being scheduled, but an exact date has not been set.
“Families, kids are very important to communities and these projects are our future,” Bratley said. “We need to invest in them.”